It's not Christmas Without Frumenty!

Well, that's what I think anyway! I just love this comforting pudding-y porridge-y conglomeration, enhanced with a bit of sugar, cream and rum or brandy.

Frumenty has been around since forever. Originally a plain gruel of cracked wheat, special times of year, such as harvest or Christmas, would see it metamorphose into a gloriously luxurious mix of flavours and textures, enhanced with the best of everything: milk and cream or eggs, spices, dried fruit and alcohol.

Up until the middle of the last century, at least, farmers in Lincolnshire were still preparing the special version on Christmas morning. It’s a custom well worth reviving, simple, nourishing and wholesome, yet very special.

Try it with a little cream poured over, an extra sprinkling of sugar and a tot of something for Christmas breakfast.

Alternatively, in normal years, you could leave some in a low oven to sustain you on your return from Midnight Mass. (Hopefully there will still be some form of Midnight Mass this year.)

It’s also a perfect candidate for the slow cooker.

Bulgar or bulgur wheat is similar to cracked wheat but is partially pre-cooked and much easier to use.

  • 8oz (225g) bulgar wheat
  • 4oz (110g) luxury mixed fruit & peel
  • 1 tablespoon golden granulated sugar
  • 1½ pints (900ml) milk
  • Knob of salted butter

Preheat oven to 150C (fan oven) or equivalent (or preheat a slow cooker*)

Heat the milk until almost boiling.

Mix bulgur wheat, fruit and sugar together, transfer to baking dish and pour hot milk over.

Dot with butter and bake for about an hour until the top is browned and the wheat is soft and has absorbed virtually all the milk.

Serve immediately with cream, rum or brandy and a sprinkling of sugar.

*If using a slow cooker, pour in cold milk – increase the amount to 1litre – and stir in the other ingredients including the knob of butter. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. You can leave it for 6-8 hours but will need to add an extra 150ml milk.